Arvind Kejriwal`s success: Five takeaways Narendra Modi should not ignore

Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s spectacular run in Delhi has come as an interjection to the Narendra Modi focused political discourse.

Ajith Vijay Kumar

Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party’s spectacular run in Delhi has come as an interjection to the Narendra Modi focused political discourse.

The media too, for once, chose to go beyond chanting ‘NaMo NaMo’ mantra and focused its lens on the power of the broom. The Sunday was super for the BJP and Modi was in Delhi but the arc lights were all on the AAP.

The debutant party’s spectacular show has challenged all conventional notions in politics; it is that kind of disruptive event that can fundamentally change the tide. Although they now have a voice, banking on AAP’s ability to change the ‘system’ would be a premature notion – like Barack Obama getting honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts" to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

Arvind Kejriwal will have to walk the talk. Wisdom says he will, or at least try, to bring change as the broom that swept away the Congress and halted BJP’s march to the podium can also sweep his party away from public consciousness.

While the Congress had seen the 4-0 washout coming, it is the BJP that has to be on the watch as the Narendra Modi Express speeds its way towards Delhi.

Though the BJP can now be reasonably sure that it has a good chance to trounce the Congress wherever they are in direct contest with each other, for success in states where there is a powerful regional force, the BJP and Narendra Modi can take a few lessons from the AAP book of success.

Kejriwal promise of clean politics has thrown up new paradigms and no political party, not the least the BJP, can afford to ignore.

Positive Inclusive Politics

Notwithstanding Arvind Kejriwal’s vitriolic “Sab Chor Hain” rant, AAP had campaigned on the promise of bringing positive change to the daily lives of the aam aadmi. The other masterstroke was going local with its manifesto, which was prepared on the basis of the inputs from people in that particular constituency. This sent out a message to the people —they are a part of the process.

Takeaway: Engage the masses, make them stakeholders in their future.

Time for New Ideas

The AAP story has amply exhibited the saleability of new ideas and the willingness of the people to buy it at face value. The time is ripe for change and the public is willing to experiment. AAP picked up the wave early – JanLokpal movement – and has been riding on it ever since.

While Modi’s promise of replicating the Gujarat model of development elsewhere in the country has brought him close to the crown in Delhi, he would have to now start talking about the aspirations of the country as a whole and his ideas to achieve them.

There’s something for Rahul Gandhi as well: It is time he stops behaving as the giver. “We gave you food security, we gave you right to education, we gave you right to ...”, the gratuitous approach won’t work anymore.

Takeaway: People have latched on to the new idea of a symbiotic relationship between rulers and their subjects.

There are no Goliaths

Rank novices have beaten political heavyweights in Delhi. Be it Vinod Kumar Binny who trounced AK Walia or Rakhi Birla’s victory over Raj Kumar Chauhan, AAP’s success and the responsibility that has come with it rests on untested but determined(?) shoulders.

However, what needs closer scrutiny is the audacity of the wins. AAP candidates were new and unproven yet they humbled giants in their own lairs. Working on the theme may help Narendra Modi break into the closely guarded regional bastions.

Takeaway: Impossible is possible

Perception Matters

The Commonwealth Games taint apart, Sheila Dikshit had, undeniably, given good governance, especially her achievements on the infrastructure front. The face of Delhi has changed during her tenure but she had not accounted for one element that matters the most – perception. It would not be unconsidered to assume that she had to pay for the sins of the UPA government at the Centre.

Unbridled corruption, policy paralysis, law and order concerns in Delhi were UPA’s weak spots but they ended up as albatross around Sheila Dikshit’s neck. Also, Arvind Kejriwal left no stone unturned to highlight the inefficiencies, actual and perceived, of the Sheila government. The AAP even went to the extent of starting civil disobedience against hiked electric charges.

And the AAP topped it up with a promise to deliver a utopian state and it, like the BJP, benefited from the negative perception against the Congress.

Modi surely understands that perception matters given the stickiness of the Gujarat riots taint on him. He has historical baggage to handle but the AAP victory presents a new approach – attack opponents on issues close to the common man while keeping clear of individuals.

Takeaway: The aam admi may clap for political wisecracks but is always more concerned about issues concerning his day-to-day life.

India Is Restless

Most importantly, it is time every stakeholder, especially Narendra Modi, the challenger, recalibrates their approach to the approaching Tsunami of a young India. It goes beyond the social networks, AAP may be as active as Modi on the Web and it has surely helped them galvanise support in a city-state like Delhi, the real story of AAP’s success lies in the restlessness of young India.

And it would be daft to assume that the youth living in India’s far-flung towns and villages are not sold on the idea. They may not be as active on Facebook as a city slicker would be, but their aspirations are at par.

28 seats to AAP in the first attempt! Gone are the days when people would wait for change to happen. It cannot be a gradual process anymore; the new India is as restless as it is resolute.

Takeaway: India wants change NOW!

The media frenzy surrounding Arvind Kejriwal and AAP may die down soon, or at least get mellowed down, and Narendra Modi would be back to occupying prime air space but the challenge before him has increased many fold.

It is not just about the Congress or the regional satraps anymore, what if the country says ‘Pehle AAP?’

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